MANCHESTER - Euro 2012 co-hosts
Poland face a "huge image problem" over hooliganism, European football's governing body UEFA said on Wednesday.
The criticism, from Martin Kallen, UEFA's director of the
championship Poland will stage with Ukraine in 14 months' time,
comes days after the latest hooligan outbreak when Polish fans
wreaked havoc at a friendly with Lithuania in Kaunas on Friday.
Kallen, organising his fifth European Championship for UEFA,
said none had caused as many problems as this tournament and was
highly critical of Poland's football image.
He also said some projects in Ukraine, including motorway
construction, would not be ready despite plans adopted in 2008.
Kallen told delegates at the Soccerex European business
forum there were now outbreaks of hooliganism at just about
every league match in Poland.
More than 60 Polish fans were detained after throwing
bottles, flares and benches at police in Lithuania last week -
an attack which has been condemned by the Polish government.
Police had to use tear-gas and dogs to control the rioting
fans against several hundred Polish fans, who also threw stones
and bottles outside the Darius and Girenas stadium in Kaunas
before and during the match which Poland lost 2-0.
The Polish government has also announced new legislation to
tackle football violence similar to the laws brought in by
Germany for the 2006 World Cup.
Kallen said: "We are concerned but I know the Polish
government is also concerned but we are not going to let a
minority spoil it for the majority.
"They know they have a huge image problem, there are always
hooligans around every match day in the league but the
government is making the right steps for the future.
"What we saw at last Friday's match was not a very good
picture to see that happening in a stadium. We and the Polish
government are concerned, they are taking this seriously and
will have changes in the next month."
Kallen said he was convinced the championship would be a
celebration and was not too concerned about trouble at the
tournament itself as the problem was more linked to club
He added: "For the Euro, different people will be coming to
matches -- there will be more families. The Euros are a party
and in many areas there is more a problem on a daily basis for
club matches. But, clearly, we are facing some challenges.
Marcin Herra, head of the Poland 2012 organisers, told
delegates there would be "zero tolerance" for hooligans but he
was quick to add that the championship would leave a lasting
positive legacy for his country and Ukraine.
"We have new legislation which allows us to work much more
precisely against those hooligans.
"There will be zero tolerance to make sure that 500 people
cannot spoil the event for one million people."
Herra added that new laws will allow police to speed up the
process of arresting suspected hooligans and dealing with them
Fans also have to be part of a central database in order to
buy tickets, with potential troublemakers prevented from doing
"We will be able to arrest people immediately and detain
them, it is a new specific solution to the problem, similar to
the one used in Germany at the World Cup in 2006.
"But we are also very positive. Many more people will come
to football and enjoy the championship. We cannot do anything
about the weather, but we can make sure the competition goes
ahead without any trouble."
Kallen added that some infrastructure developments would not
be ready and some motorway construction would not be completed.
"It will not be anything drastic, you might have to take a
small detour here and there, but everything else, including all
the stadiums, will be ready."
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